Mini Israel

Ask ten different people touring Mini Israel what they like best about this unique and exciting site, and you will get ten different answers.

mini Israel (photo credit: mini Israel)
mini Israel
(photo credit: mini Israel)

Ask ten different people touring Mini Israel what they like bestabout this unique and exciting site, and you will get ten differentanswers. The artistic-minded will rave at the detailed perfection onthousands of true to life models and figures. Veteran Israelis talkabout the thrill of recognizing streets they have walked, highways theyhave driven, soccer stadiums they still frequent and army ceremonies inwhich they have taken part. Tiny tots not yet able to verbalize can beseen jumping up and down with joy as they view "ships" sailing intoport and "airplanes" taxiing on the tarmac.

Butno matter how different their reactions, on one point everyone is incomplete agreement: a journey through Mini Israel is the easiest,fastest, and most pleasurable way to visit every historic and importantsite in this country at a single blow. Or, as the say at Mini Israel:See it All � Small!

Incredibly, no matter how many timesyou travel through this unique miniature Holy Land, there is alwayssomething you didn't notice before – or a new feature to explore. Andbecause the entire site is spread out along flat, even paths, you can"walk" the Land of Israel – from the Hermon Mountains to Eilat - in awheelchair, with strollers, by electric cart and, of course, by foot!

Appropriatelyfor a site that encompasses all of Israel, the park is located in theAyalon Valley, smack in the center of the country and in one of themost biblical regions in the world. For thousands of years pilgrims,armies, and merchants traveled through the valley on their way to andfrom Jerusalem.

Biblical battles were foughthere — and modern ones as well. Here in the valley the sun stood stillfor Joshua and gave him a victory over 5 Canaanite armies. Here Judahthe Maccabee lured the Greeks into a trap. And here, heavy fightingtook place between Israeli forces and the Arab Legion during the Warof Independence.

Every geographical region in Israelis represented at Mini Israel, north to south and east to west.Israel’s northernmost point is the Mount Hermon which, at 2814 metersabove sea level, is almost double the height of Israel?s other hills.No wonder sport lovers fill the miniature ski lift, and glide along itssnowy slopes.

Wow, the wind must really be blowing up north,for red propellers can be seen twirling madly in the air. Thesewhirling dervishes are exact replicas of turbines on Tel Gassaniyain the Golan Heights, and are busy harnessing wind to provide us withclean electricity.The Golan Heights are bursting with history. Indeed, the region,settled for thousands of years, held nearly three dozen flourishingJewish villages during the Talmudic (Byzantine) era. Some decades ago,the village of Katzrin, with its splendid synagogue, was discovered andpartially reconstructed for visitors to the Golan. And, magically,it appears in miniature, in the center of the country, at Mini Israel!

Bells ring around the Sea of Galilee, heard most clearly at themagnificent Church of the Beatitudes above the lake. An unusuallylovely ancient synagogue stands next to St. Peter’s house at Capernaum,near the Church of Loaves and Fishes — site of a famous New Testamentmiracle.

Tombs of rabbinical sages and miracle workers are scattered in andaround Tiberias — both the actual northern city and in its miniaturecounterpart at Mini Israel. It’s hard to miss the tomb of theMaimonides’, with its black-coated pilgrims and very strange red metalpinnacle. Nearby, a grandiose complex is spread out atop the tombof Rabbi Meir, who lived exactly a thousand years before the medievalsage. Here visitors include a number of women in a variety of colorfulhead coverings and apparel.

Children often wander through Mini Israel calling out "Trees!Trees!‘ And no wonder: actually, every one of thepark’s 70,000 plants — including 17,000 dwarf trees — are real!Visitors often have to rub their eyes, as they view ’people‘ eatingat tiny picnic tables in Jewish National Fund Forests near theubiquitous green and blue penguin that is the JNF symbol. And, believeit or not, even the miniature gardens leading up to Haifa’s BahaiTemple, are real.

Haifa, at Mini Israel, is a wonderful mix of water (Haifa Port),religion (the Al Jireena and the Ahmadi Mosques) historic sights (theTurkish Train Station), modern settlement (the tomb and memorial siteof Baron Edmond de Rothschild, the funny ball-shaped cable cars on themountain, and the all-important Oil Refineries, steam rising from itstowers into the air.

Nearby, and strange as it might seem to some, even Israelis havebeen heard to wonder allowed why Acco holds such a prominent placeat Mini Israel. They are familiar, of course, with the city’s prisonand its Great Escape. But this may be the first time they view theimpressive Crusader complex recently uncovered beneath the modern city

.Modern Jewish settlement all over the country is represented in plenty at Mini Israel.

Pioneerswere trained to farm on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, at KinneretCourtyard, established in 1908. Soon afterwards, they founded the firstcommunal settlement. Nahalal, in the lower Galilee, was not only thefirst cooperative farm in Israel, but it was built in concentriccircles! Scaled smaller than the other models in the park, MiniIsrael’s Nahalal features dozens of tiny, highly diverse animals andfigures — and includes nearly 1,000 different buildings. Above the veryfirst neighborhood outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City,youngsters are fascinated by the realistic windmill.

In case you are wondering if Israel is a land without culture, thinkagain! Mini Israel boasts dozens of this country’s world-famousmuseums, theaters, its Opera House and dancers doing the ’hora‘ at theannual Carmiel folk-dancing festival! A leading musician even holdsa master class at the Music Center in Jerusalem, shouting with passion.As for sports, all kinds of athletic events take place simultaneouslyat the Hadar Yoseph stadium, ecstatic fans cheer wildly at a soccergame at Teddy stadium and players are shooting hoops at Yad Eliahu!

One favorite stop in the park is an enormous construction site,an all-too familiar scene in Israel. Cranes carry heavy blocks frombuilding to building, while tiny people check out model apartments andlandscape developers beautify completed projects. Trucks move back andforth, even giving off that annoying beep that tells you to move outof the way as they back up!

Tel Aviv is celebrating its 100th birthday this year! The city builton sand is, today, a busy metropolis with the most eclecticarchitecture in the country. Parking in Tel Aviv (and just drivingon its streets) is a nightmare. But who needs the headache, when liningthe paths of Mini Israel are structures from the 19th-century alongwith the famous Bauhaus architecture that won Tel Aviv the honorof being named a World Heritage Center. Dizengoff House, once the homeof Tel Aviv’s first mayor, stands on one side of lovely RothschildBoulevard. That noise coming from one of the buildings is the voiceof David Ben Gurion, declaring the independence of the State of Israel!

Massada has gone down in Jewish history as the desperate struggleof a people who refused to surrender. At Massada National Park, acrossfrom the Dead Sea, visitors watch a wonderful presentation thatincludes a portion of the movie ’Massada‘ with Peter O’Toole as theRoman Commander who smashed through the walls and found that 900 Jewshad committed suicide rather than become Roman slaves. MiniIsrael’s perfectly scaled model of that historic site brings the storyto life as well, with Herod’s palace, zealots, an actual earthenembankment, Roman soldiers, and battering ram.

The vast diversity of cultures and ways of life in Israel are hardto define and even harder to describe. Yet Mini Israel does it for you,with its painstakingly accurate houses of worship, religiousinsitutions, and figures of people at prayer. Perhaps the mostspiritual site at Mini Israel is Jerusalem’s Western Wall, just belowthe Temple Mount. Teeny tiny men, women and children bow and swayto the clatter of dozens of mixed ethnic groups praying out loud. Theshofar blows, and the noise level increases. At the same time, andon the Temple Mount, men bow low in unison to the call of ’AllahHu Akbar‘ (Allah is Great), this assortment of religious soundsintermingling with one another.

Only a few meters away, the sounds of Judaism blendswithChristianity, as well. From the famous amphitheater at the Mount Scopusbranch of the first Hebrew University in the world, famous singerYehoram Gaon sings ’Jerusalem, Jerusalem‘ while ’next door‘ on theMount of Olives tiny people visit the many stunning churches scatteringon the slopes. And across the Kidron Valley, site of massive, ancientJewish tombs, bells ring from Dormition Abbey atop Mount Zion — where,according to tradition, King David was buried and where, accordingto a far different tradition, Jesus held a Passover Seder (the LastSupper).

Other cultures and ethnic groups are also represented at MiniIsrael. Nebi Shueb, the shrine of the most famous Druze prophet,is filled with ’men" wearing religious headdress and long, flowingrobes. Unknown to many, the Ethiopians in Israel pray in an unusualround church, with the Lion of Judah proudly displayed on its gate.

Many and varied are the ways forvisiting this unique and wonderful site. You can simply saunter along,passing the different models, appreciating their unique beauty andlearning a bit about the country. You can focus on places that you maynever visit. You may drink in the details at sites with which you arefamiliar, or you may want to concentrate on one theme, one area, or onesubject.

You can take an audio guide with you on yourjourney through the park, so that you can delve more deeply into thehistory of each site, learning spicy and fascinating details. The audioguide is filled with humor, suggesting you stop and listen to thesounds of the Israeli national pastime (paddle balls on the beach nextto the Tel Aviv Promenade).

You can also run fromattraction to attraction, pressing the buttons and thrilled at thesight of the soccer players actually passing the ball, fascinated asthe pile of oranges at the frozen citrus juice plant gets smaller,swelling with pride as an athlete gets a medal at Hadar Yoseph, andexcited to watch the Changing of the Guards at the Knesset. But takecare - the safari's elephant likes to squirt water out of its trunk!